HR 288

Small Business Broadband Deployment Act

Score:

5 out of 5

01/11/2017: Received in the Senate and read twice, then referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

The bill exempts small businesses from the enhanced transparency requirements in the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order. These rules are still nominally in place even after the recent CRA, which only vacated additional rules promulgated in 2016.

Link to Bill Text →

How they Voted: House →

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Pros

This bill claims to provide incentives for more broadband networks in rural areas, but is actually about mass market Internet access provided over broadband networks rather than the construction and operation of the networks themselves. We agree that new small business entrants should not be burdened with the same regulations as larger incumbents, for both network construction and operation and the services the new entrant provides over those networks. However, if the new network is the only broadband option in an area, then the operator by definition has market power in that area and strong consideration should be given to requiring that the network operator to allow other companies to provide higher layer services (such as Internet access) over that network, after taking into account that wireless-based networks involve different factors than do wired networks.

Cons

If Congress truly wants to enable deployment of new networks in rural areas, it should instead focus on a much larger problem facing rural network operators: access to backhaul facilities. Small operators have limited and costly options for the required transmission from local access networks to the nearest main Internet peering points, and pay enormous amounts for backhaul from towers. The FCC's recent actions on "business data services" will make this problem worse, not better.

Tags:
  • Open Internet,
  • United States